There’s nothing quite as annoying after a hard day of training than coming home to find that your planet has been attacked and its citizens turned to stone. It really puts a dampener on your dinner plans that’s for sure. Sadly Alex Kidd’s supper is going to have to wait because wouldn’t you know it, his hard day of training is getting capped off by an invasion and he’s pretty much the only one who can stop it.
So packing his fists, Alex sets off to stop the villainous Janken across a series of quirky 2D side-scrolling levels.
As a remaster of the original 1986 Sega Master System game, Alex Kidd in Miracle World, Alex Kidd in Miracle World DX is a visual remake with just enough new elements added to make it feel fresh for modern gaming audiences while staying slavishly true to its original platforming roots.
Set against the backdrop of said invasion, Alex will platform and fight his way across a variety of levels that will bring him into contact with angry bulls, power-ups and bosses you have to beat in rock-paper-scissors matches. While it maintains old school design to the extreme, this DX remaster brings a fantastic amount of visual charm to the table. However, you’re enjoyment of the title will really depend on how much mileage you get out of said old school design.
Alex begins his rather short stages with only three lives, a punching attack and no health bar. One hit kills are the order of the day for our hero, making the level navigation a challenging affair, especially against the flying and projectile chucking enemies. There are plenty of blocks in his path for Alex to break which contain money, much needed items with various abilities, ghostly enemies that will zero in on you for insta-kills and 1Up extra lives. The special block that contains the last three items mentioned previously is randomised, making breaking it a potentially hazardous affair. Without an in-game manual, figuring out the power-ups special abilities is something you’re just going to have to experiment with. The most useful of them, next to the ones that let you fly past some of the tougher sections, is the fire ring which lets Alex shoot much needed projectiles. Beware though, if you die you lose all the items.
And die you will, quite a bit in fact. Sadly death in Alex Kidd isn’t merely because of the games inconsistent difficulty and old school memorisation and quick reflexes design, but due to other factors, namely the games collision boxes and how Alex controls.
The collision boxes feel inconsistent for both attacking enemies and getting hit by them. Sometimes you’ll get hit by something that clearly was just passing you over while the bulk of the time, if you’re saddled only with Alex’s punch, you practically have to be in the enemy’s collision boxes to register said hit. Punching the snot out of your enemies just isn’t the way to go here because of the inconsistency on what will kill you versus what won’t because of a difficult to judge distance. Making that fire ring pure gold.
Alex’s movement is also rather imprecise. He has a tendency to slide all over the place making pixel perfect jumping and landing far more arduous than it needs to be. Most of the time I spent dying was because I needed to land on a single block above some form of stage hazard and Alex would slide off the block or, alternately, into an enemy.
Stage difficulty is also imprecise. Some levels I struggled through while succeeding levels I breezed through. At the start of most stages you can buy items from a shop and I highly recommend you do. Not all are useful, but there’s usually one that will make it easier to get through a level. That said, I wouldn’t call Alex Kidd the pinnacle of difficulty, just a bit more frustrating at times than it should be.
Visually Alex Kidd’s graphical facelift is absolutely gorgeous. The 2D artwork is just sumptuous, from the background elements to the little details that fill out Alex’s personality. The onomatopoeic balloons that pop up when you defeat an enemy enhance the charming cartoon aesthetic. It’s easily one of the best 2D visual experiences on the market today. For those wanting something more retro, a press of the shoulder button drops the game back into 8-bit visuals.
Developers Jankenteam have added some new meat to the game with new levels, some additional writing to round out the story and, most importantly, an infinite lives setting which goes a long way to reducing the aggravation you may have at trying to get through with only three lives. Once activated though, you’ll have to start a new game to turn it off. Completing the game opens up two extra modes, Boss Rush Mode and Classic Mode. Boss Rush is as you’d expect while Classic Mode is, strangely, the developers recreation of the original Alex Kidd rather than the original emulated.
A special shout out has to be given to the games music which is fantastically infectious. Long after a play session I’d find myself humming some of the game’s tunes.
How much you’ll get out of Alex Kidd in Miracle World DX is really dependent on how much of a fan you are of the original game and how much you enjoy retro platforming design. The gorgeous 2D artwork and infectious soundtrack go a long way to paving over some of the design oddities that this remaster retains, though the developers should have fixed the controls at least. It may not be a necessity to your gaming log, but it definitely deserves a check out at least.
A review code for Alex Kidd in Miracle World DX was provided to Gameblur by the publisher
Alex Kidd in Miracle World DXAlex Kidd in Miracle World DX
Visuals8/10 Very Good
Sound8/10 Very Good
- Gorgeous 2D art
- Catchy soundtrack
- Infinite lives
- Alex’s controls could have been tightened up
- Collision boxes need more refinement